At the Interbee show in Japan we got our first look at Lectrosonic’s new PDR (Personal Digital Recorder) which we previously reported on. The PDR is a small belt-worn pack designed to record audio, with time code sync from an external source in circumstances where a traditional full sized recorder or wireless system might be impractical to use. Think extreme sports, public events, or complicated documentary and reality shows. The recorder is lightweight, unobtrusive, can be easily hidden in clothes. or as a plant mic.
Having a small portable audio recorder that can be placed on your subject, or hidden near the audio source you want to capture can be extremely handy in certain situations. I have often used similar recorders to capture audio on documentary shoots where I was experiencing radio mic interference, and also where I needed to record more than 2-3 tracks of audio. The PDR can also take an input from a traditional radio mic transmitter, so you can always have a clean back up if needed.
Using time code sync at the start of the production means that the audio track can be placed accurately in the timeline of a video clip, without the need for any waveform matching software. The industry standard .wav (BWF) file format is compatible with almost all professional audio or video editing software. Usefully, the recorder can also be tethered to a camera to capture a higher quality, or for backup audio recording. The headphone output can also double as a line output to feed the AV input on a camera.
There are two recording modes: HD Mono records the audio in a single file; Split Gain records the same audio to two different channels in the file, one at the normal level and another at -18 dB as a safety track. This is a really important feature, especially because you are unlikely to be monitoring the audio while it is recording. The ability to record a second track at -18db gives you a back up in case sudden increases in level make the main audio track clip unusable.
Setup and adjustment is made through a simple keypad and LCD interface. In keeping with typical Lectrosonics design the housing is machined from a solid aluminum billet for the ruggedness needed in field production. The PDR can be powered for over six hours on a single AAA lithium battery.
There is also a simple iOS app that has been made specifically for the PDR that allows you to control all of its functions. At $900US the PDR is certainly not cheap, but having a in-built timecode sync makes it a lot more practical to use on a professional set than non-time code PDR recorders from companies such as JuicedLink and Tascam.